First Person Life

2011-10-25

Doctrine AND Practice AND Fellowship

I recently found myself engaged by a discussion over at Steadfast Lutherans on the topic of Doctrine and Practice. In the course of that discussion, my verbosity got the better of me (those who know me know this isn't a surprise).

Anyway, the following "essay" is a further response to that discussion (the post which prompted this reply can be found here). It's posted here mostly because I didn't want to post a 3 page comment in the comments section of the original post and also because this is actually a different discussion (about Fellowship) than the one started (about Doctrine and Practice). If there is a desire to repost on Steadfast Lutherans, I'd appreciate a heads up in case I want to rephrase anything before it goes up -- and, as with anything of this sort, this isn't intended to be the "Last Word" so if you have thoughts/comments, do share.

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A reply to comments on Steadfast Lutherans

Previous Commenter:

I’d like to push this a bit further though: by fellowship, we mean specifically the fellowship that we have in Christ — this is not just earthly guys getting together and hanging out.

My Reply:

I'm not sure I can agree. In fact, it would appear that Ephesians 4:1-6 precludes this understanding.

We have been called in our baptism to ONE faith. Having been reborn by the ONE Spirit, the new man clings to this ONE faith, holds it perfectly and undefiled. Therefore, by virtue of our baptism and the faith received therein, all Christians (AS Christians - i.e., in the "new man") are already united and are, therefore, of ONE mind (even on all matters of doctrine).

The problem comes in when we recognize that this "new man" is born within the flesh of the old recitrant donkey that is the "Old Adam" and thus does not show forth this unity of faith. This occurs not only in various day-to-day interactions with others but even on Sunday morning when we all purport to worship this ONE God in the unanimity of the Spirit united under Christ the ONE head of the church [Just how many "liturgies" do you think exist in the throne room of God?]. Instead of seeking uniformity in practice and doctrine, the Old Adam wars and fights against the true faith and sets up "self-chosen worship" that acts and teaches contrary to God's Word and not only undercuts the faith but also the unity in the Spirit that God's Word creates.

I think FC 6.18-20 applies quite directly to the current discussion:

excerpts:

But since believers are not completely renewed in this world, but the old Adam clings to them even to the grave, there also remains in them the struggle between the spirit and the flesh. . . . as far as the old Adam is concerned . . . he must be driven not only with the Law, but also with punishments; nevertheless he does everything against his will and under coercion . . . So, too, this doctrine of the Law is needful for believers, in order that they may not hit upon a holiness and devotion of their own, and under the pretext of the Spirit of God set up a self-chosen worship, without God's Word and command, as it is written [in] Deut. 12:8,28,32.

If, according to the "New Man" born of water and the Word (what Paul calls the Spiritual Man), we are all of one mind - in concord with the one Faith bestowed upon us by the One God and Father of All, then it really is with relation to "just earthly guys getting together and hanging out" that the topic of fellowship finds its proper place. Our fellowship "in Christ" is a GIFT that is given by God and preserved by Him. It is our OUTWARD fellowship that is at issue because it gives witness to this inward unity (or lack thereof).

There are those who, according to the OUTWARD man, conform their practices and teaching to the doctrine (teachings/faith) held by the INNER man (although not even close to perfectly in this life). The INNER man received this ONE FAITH by virtue of his baptism (we are talking here specifically of all Christians - non-Christians have no "INNER MAN" in the Pauline sense). This "One Faith" is the same doctrine which is revealed to the whole world and can be seen also by the OUTER MAN through God's revelation in Scripture.

On the other hand, there are those who have been reborn and are Christian that do not seek to conform their practices and teachings to the "One Faith" (i.e., teaching/doctrine) bestowed through baptism and revealed in Holy Scripture. These do not seek to outwardly exhibit through teaching and practice this unity of faith which all Christians share by virtue of their being born anew from above. (For the moment, we will leave aside whether this non-conformance is from rebellion or ignorance. There is also the issue of those who break from an outward exhibition of unity in order to be more faithful to the truth revealed in Scripture which will be briefly touched on below.)

The unity of the Spirit which is a gift in our baptism SHOULD show itself forth in the unity of our thinking about all things spiritual (even the interpretation of the Good Samaritan) and even in our outward teaching and practice. This is what Paul means when He says, being diligent/laboring/striving (σπουδάζοντες) to keep/guard/treasure/hold fast (τηρεῖν) the unity/one-ness/*unanimity* (ενοτητα) of the Spirit in the bond/union (συνδεσμω) of THE PEACE (της ειρηνης) (REF EPH 2:14).

Notice it is "to KEEP the unity of the Spirit". The one-ness that we have is something GIVEN to us that can be lost, it is not something acquired by our effort. Yet it takes effort to maintain because without such effort, the Old Adam which inheres would overpower us and destroy that bond and separate us from the Peace made by God through the forgiveness won by Christ.

When and where the outward expression of this unanimity of the Spirit is disrupted, one or both parties (usually both, by the way) are permitting their sinful flesh which desires innovation, uniqueness, egoism, and the ability to hold our own "rightness" over someone else to hold sway over the unity prompted by the Spirit.

So, "How much wiggle room do we allow OURSELVES here?" The answer is "NONE!" Because "wiggle room" is what is desired by the Old Adam rebelling against the truth. Now, "How much wiggle room do we allow OTHERS?" The answer can be found (among other places) in Ephesians 4:1-3, "walk worthy of the calling ... with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love." The implication being, do this as you seek to retain -- or perhaps in our current context we would better say "acquire outwardly" -- the unity of faith bestowed and which is already yours according to the INNER MAN.

However, as for ourselves, we ought to adhere to Paul's words in 4:17-24:

excerpts:

". . . you should no longer walk as the rest of the gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them . . . But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and BE RENEWED IN THE SPIRIT OF YOUR MIND, and that you put on the new man WHICH WAS CREATED ACCORDING TO GOD, IN TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HOLINESS (emphasis added).

TO SUMMARIZE:

  • Unity/unanimity of the ONE faith is a gift of our baptism and is something held by the INNER man perfectly as the new creation born of the ONE Spirit.
  • The recognition of this inward unity/unanimity ought to result in its outward expression (eg., uniformity in teaching and practice).
  • Those things which disrupt the outward expression of this unity/unanimity (eg., non-uniform teachings and practices) mitigate against fellowship because such disruptions give witness to a disruption in the inward unity/unanimity that exists among believers by virtue of their possession of the ONE SPIRIT bestowed in Baptism (cxref EPH 4:4-6).

The obvious question is the one you raised, "where do we draw the line?" But I don't think it's a question of "where" but of "how". Is the disruption the result of ignorance or of rebellion? Ignorance should be dealt with patiently, according to St. Paul's admonition. Rebellion (whether it's against the established practices or against a right desire for greater faithfulness to what has been given to us) is evidence that true unity in the Spirit is already lacking. I would define rebellion as continued non-uniform teaching/practice without regard or concern for (a) its disruptive effects on outward unity AND (more importantly) (b) the standard of truth by which all teaching and practice ought to be measured (eg., Luther's disruption was in favor of greater fidelity to the faith given to us). Thus the breaking of the outward ties (i.e., fellowship) is simply a confirmation of the underlying disunity that exists because the Old Adam has won out over the New Man (eg., in the case of Luther, Rome confirmed it did not share the Scriptural faith of Luther by excommunicating him. In so doing, Rome confirmed its lust for power over fidelity to the Scriptural Revelation of the free gift of Grace by Faith in Christ).

NOTE: The above has different implications for the ESTABLISHMENT of outward fellowship where it does not yet exist, but I believe those implications are consistent with how the LCMS handles such matters. As always, I seek clarification or correction if I am wrong.

NOTE2: (Given the contentiousness of the underlying issues that give rise to this thread, this must be said explicitly) The above does NOT purport to answer the question of whether or not the varieties of worship practices within the LCMS necessitate the severing of outward fellowship nor does it presuppose whether any given practice is right or wrong - those things are outside the purview of this discussion. Given what HAS been said above, such determinations CANNOT be made in a wholesale manner, but can ONLY be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

-- Rev. Matthew Dent

10 Comments:

  • Pr Dent,

    First off, I appreciate your response and the time involved in it. I certainly would commend your verbosity and not complain about it. So often, in trying to be short and sweet, we get misunderstood.

    On the other hand — I do not thank you for your having me go to yet another website to continue a conversation. :)

    Anyway my comment:

    I’d like to push this a bit further though: by fellowship, we mean specifically the fellowship that we have in Christ — this is not just earthly guys getting together and hanging out.

    I meant to contrast the Christian and the fellowship that he would share with other Christians in comparison with earthly organizations — like say my old Rotary club. (and yes, it was more than guys hanging out.

    So, I was drawing a contrast between New Men and non-New Men hanging together. Not just how New Men hang out. Make sense?

    Now as to the Inner Man/Outer Man distinction...there are times and places where this metaphor is handy. There are times when it is cumbersome. I would say this is one of those times.

    For example, what exactly does it mean that by virtue of our baptism that we are of one mind in doctrine? How exactly does this exist? What does it really mean?

    So, yes, the Christian (new & old together) does not have the unity that is declared to us perfectly through Christ and one that we will share together perfectly in His Kingdom.

    Now, you address some issues of variety in worship—I don't know how well you know me or my church, but we have Contemporary Worship (CoWo) and I am not so convinced that unity in all of our practices is so important.

    It certainly is not said by the Council of Presidents. And our Synod has said much of the same as well. I know that this ultimately is the core of the discussion of doctrine and practice.

    But for all intents and purposes, it was not my focus in the original discussion and nor is it right now for this one. I don't have any problem chatting about it — I don't have any problem chatting about anything — but I just had other interests in this discussion.

    By Blogger mqll, at 10/25/2011 4:52 PM  

  • So, going back to what you do say that I'd like to chat about, I understand that the fellowship that we have with Christians — and by this, I really do mean, other Christians, not just Lutherans, but all those who are Christians and not non-Christians, pagans, heretics, etc — this is indeed a gift from God. Because of course, it is not through our own works that we come to faith; it is not by our own reason or strength (or anyone's reason or strength).

    In this way, yes, fellowship is a gift. It is not something to achieve—rather, it is demonstrated.

    In this way as well, it cannot be broken.

    So, our fellowship with other Christians recognizes merely the distinction between Christians and non-Christians.

    And this is still fairly crucial — for there are those who claim the NAME of Christian, but in fact, because of their doctrine and teaching and practice — are not. That is to say, not that their actions make them to not be Christians — rather, their actions and public teachings demonstrate that they are not Christian.

    So, the Mormon church is not a Christian church.

    Now, I'm talking about church bodies when it comes to fellowship here—not individuals. Who really can look into the heart of a person and see if they lie or not? If they are thinking "This is all baloney!" You or I could secretly hold to this.

    So, in order to make distinctions, we have to point to public proclamation and public actions in order to say "This Church is a Christian church" or "This individual is a Christian."

    Here I disagree with you that the issue is not "where" the line is drawn. Of course it is. We have to make that distinction. We have to be able to bring the law upon people to say "Your child's baptism was not valid; it was not in the name of Huey, Louey and Duey, and that is not a valid Christian baptism."

    So, yes, How we act is important. But no less than the "Where do we act?" We need to have a clear, bright line between the Christian church and the non-Christian church. It is why so many of the early fathers wrote against heretics — to label, identify and warn.

    By Blogger mqll, at 10/25/2011 5:04 PM  

  • So when you say:

    Those things which disrupt the outward expression of this unity/unanimity (eg., non-uniform teachings and practices) mitigate against fellowship because such disruptions give witness to a disruption in the inward unity/unanimity that exists among believers by virtue of their possession of the ONE SPIRIT bestowed in Baptism (cxref EPH 4:4-6).

    I say that there is a clear, bring line that indicates where the fellowship is broken, and we are not dealing with Christians; and where the fellowship is not broken and we are.

    Once again— I am speaking about the revealed church here, not the hidden church.

    Now, let's go back to the "wiggle room" comment. Here the issue comes to looking at all of the Christians gathered together. Within this group, we still have disagreement (despite our unity in Christ) because of our sin. Well, what then?

    Well, we divide. We do not say "Well, come and commune with us, you who reject the real presence." No.

    On the other hand, we DO allow those who hold that Jesus is the Good Samaritan to commune.

    So, I understand your point about saying we don't allow wiggle room — but in all actuality we do. Because not all teachings divide us.

    And, nor do, I note, all practices.

    Ok. Do you see my point? Do you understand where I agree with you and where my disagreement lies? I find that understanding one another is always the key to successful conversation. So, do you understand me? Cause I hope I got you right.

    Thank you again for your response.

    By Blogger mqll, at 10/25/2011 5:14 PM  

  • Pastor Louderback -

    Sorry for forcing another website I just didn't want to hijack the SJS site with my own diatribe... I also didn't realize there was a 4,096 limit to comments. I'll email my response to make it easier for you to see the whole thing and respond. If you choose not to respond on the website, I understand.

    Anyway, I, too, am appreciative of your time in this discussion. I find it not only clarifies my own thinking but helps me see things from a different angle. As always, anything in the following is fair game for discussion. Don't let the "heaviness" that comes across lead you to believe you can't change my mind. I'm truly interested in your perspective and open to having my mind changed by plain reasoning from the Scriptures.

    So... let's dive in, shall we? ;)

    Ok. Do you see my point? Do you understand where I agree with you and where my disagreement lies?

    If I understand you, you are arguing that the practical and pragmatic reality that full doctrinal agreement on all points is impossible in this age ought to result in some level of open-mindedness and acceptance of differences in teaching and practice within some standard of "reasonableness" among Christians. The real question to be answered is, "Where do we draw the lines?"

    To make your point, you reference differences in interpretation of the Good Samaritan as a teaching that doesn't divide us, and the rejection of the real presence as a teaching that does.

    By Blogger DentM42, at 10/27/2011 12:02 AM  

  • The problem with these examples is they are not cut from the same cloth. The only reason we can accept the difference of opinion that exists with regard to the interpretation of the Good Samaritan is because, due to our fallen nature, we do not clearly understand the intentions of Jesus and there is no clear statement in Scripture saying, "Jesus is the Good Samaritan."

    On the other hand, Jesus clearly said, "τουτο εστιν το σωμα μου." Only someone who rejects the clear words of Christ rejects the reality of the sacramental union of Christ's body with the bread that is distributed and received in Holy Communion. One who persists in this rejection despite being confronted with the truth revealed in Scripture is rebelling against the clear teachings of our Lord and therefore cannot be counted as a true disciple of Christ. "Felicitous inconsistency" allows us to continue to receive them as siblings in Christ, but their rebellion and denial of Christ's clear teaching sets them on a dangerous path from which they need to be warned.

    One manner of such warning is to point out that they have separated themselves from the fellowship in the ONE FAITH and to refuse to allow them to claim they adhere to the truth when they do not. Notice it is not because their false belief undercuts faith in the Gospel - rather, their false belief is an overt denial of Christ's clear teaching on the matter. It is their denial of Christ's Word that precludes fellowship, not some arbitrarily defined "undercutting the Gospel."

    Since there is no such clarity with regard to the referent intended in the parable of the Good Samaritan, neither side has a basis for declaring the other side to be teaching "falsely". It is not "big tent inclusivism" that allows it, it is the fact that we are fallen human beings prone to misunderstand and misinterpret. Therefore, in humility, each side tacitly admits, "Because of my fallenness, I may be wrong in my interpretation." However, without some serious mental gymnastics there is no denying "τουτο εστιν το σωμα μου." There is, therefore, no legitimate way for those who believe in the real presence to say, "I may be wrong," because doing so would also be to deny the divinity and perfection of Christ and to claim that there is the possibility He taught falsely, mislead us, or was somehow 'mistaken' in His understanding when He spoke.

    Needless to say, I don't believe in a "pragmatic" approach to drawing the lines or a "practical" approach to interpreting Scripture. I believe Scripture's teachings are clear and that Scripture itself clearly draws the lines between those who "keep/treasure" the authoritative teachings conveyed thereby (Mt 28:20 - "τηρειν παντα οσα ενετειλαμην υμιν") and those who do not. We need only be humble enough to submit to its teachings and not lord ourselves over the text or try to distill Scripture down to some principles or general ideas that we then try to apply to circumstances. Where Scripture speaks clearly, there can be no debate or argument, it must simply be believed and accepted as true whether it makes sense or seems to "work" in practical or pragmatic terms or not. That's what it means to say, "Scripture IS the Word of God."

    Note: I realize I am focusing the conversation on doctrine and teaching and avoiding the question of practice. This is because to my way of thinking practice (which I would define as: deliberate repetition of actions) is "visible doctrine." If/when you and I can agree on how to draw the lines with regard to doctrine, we will be able to begin looking at practices that purport to uphold that doctrine. Until we have SOMETHING firm, everything else will just slip through our fingers.

    By Blogger DentM42, at 10/27/2011 12:02 AM  

  • . . . as to the Inner Man/Outer Man distinction...there are times and places where this metaphor is handy. There are times when it is cumbersome. I would say this is one of those times.

    I'm sure it wasn't intended, but I see in these statements a difference in approach to Scripture and the Confessions that makes me a bit uncomfortable. Perhaps you can clarify what you mean that the "Inner Man/Outer Man distinction" is a "metaphor."

    I personally cannot see it as a "metaphor" at all. I see this distinction between inner man/outer man, or old Adam and new man clearly taught both in Scripture and the Confessions as a concrete reality. Ephesians 4 and FC VI are but two examples among many. As one who is bound to speak the same / "confess" (homologew) what Scripture teaches, I am bound to conform to the pattern of sound words which declares it to be so. If there is any sort of Scriptural evidence that this is metaphorical language and not descriptive of concrete reality, I'd certainly entertain it, but without such evidence, I am bound by the one who has called me and by my oath to uphold the plain teaching of His revelation of truth and reality which He has caused to be delivered to us. Thus, "cumbersome" or not, we're stuck with it. But, frankly, why would we wish to set it aside since it is so helpful at dealing with the issues underlying our discussion?

    By Blogger DentM42, at 10/27/2011 12:03 AM  

  • For example, what exactly does it mean that by virtue of our baptism that we are of one mind in doctrine? How exactly does this exist? What does it really mean?

    What this concrete reality means is that the Christian still living in the flesh in this world is always "doubleminded" by virtue of this double existence. The Spirit which indwells the Christian is continually striving against the sinful flesh with which each of us comes forth from the womb. Scripture in several places describes this reality almost as two separate existences at war with one another. It is as if it is a separate person seeking to force the sinful to conform and be outwardly what he is inwardly - a struggle that continues until death as FC VI.18-20 relates.

    So, yes, the Christian (new & old together) does not have the unity that is declared to us perfectly through Christ and one that we will share together perfectly in His Kingdom.

    This unity is not some FUTURE reality, but it is a present reality. Also, it isn't something that is declared to be true in spite of it's not being so. God speaks us united, and we are - in reality - united in Christ - sharing in the mind of God through the Spirit who indwells us. By virtue of that indwelling of the Spirit, made possible by the death and resurrection of Christ who poured out the Spirit at Pentecost, we are made to be (now) what we are not by nature. Though this isn't fully shown forth because of our sinful nature which rebels and wars against this existence, it is nevertheless true.

    By Blogger DentM42, at 10/27/2011 12:04 AM  

  • Now, you address some issues of variety in worship—I don't know how well you know me or my church, but we have Contemporary Worship (CoWo) . . .

    Honestly, I don't know you that well, or your church. I think the questions of "variety in worship" will be much easier to resolve if we can get through some of these lower level issues. Our disagreements in Synod over CoWo and other practices are, in my estimation, simply the outward exhibition of our lack of unanimity over some of these other issues.

    I understand that the fellowship that we have with Christians . . . is indeed a gift from God. . . . It is not something to achieve—rather, it is demonstrated. In this way as well, it cannot be broken. So, our fellowship with other Christians recognizes merely the distinction between Christians and non-Christians. . . . We need to have a clear, bright line between the Christian church and the non-Christian church.

    Here I sense that we've changed terms. I think it is better said, "the unity that we have with Christians is a gift from God." This unity exhibits itself through outward ties (fellowship) with others who outwardly exhibit the marks of this inward reality (for example, a common confession of faith).

    But there can be no fellowship (here I speak specifically of outward ties that convey agreement in spiritual matters) with non-Christians because they do not have the Spirit of Christ. Therefore, we must by no means pretend there is agreement in spiritual matters by any sort of external fellowship that might cause others to conclude that we are the same. I don't think there is any disagreement between us on that.

    Where I perceive disagreement is on the issue of "wiggle room" within the family of faith and how we deal with those who are (or claim to be) indwelt by the Spirit of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:3 - "no man can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit") yet are in open rebellion against the Holy Spirit because they refuse to conform their confession to the clear teachings which God has laid out in Scripture. These must be sternly warned (Matthew 12:31-32) and if they refuse to hear the warning, they must be openly shown to be false believers and teachers and a clear distinction between the Scriptural teaching and what is falsehoods dreamed up in the imaginations of men must be made. This is what the church Fathers were doing when they warred against Heretics. Remember, most heretics claimed to be of the family of faith.

    By Blogger DentM42, at 10/27/2011 12:05 AM  

  • On the other hand, we DO allow those who hold that Jesus is the Good Samaritan to commune. So, I understand your point about saying we don't allow wiggle room — but in all actuality we do. Because not all teachings divide us. And, nor do, I note, all practices.

    My point was, individually and personally (not corporately), we ought do anything and everything to assure we conform our confession/teaching/doctrine to that which has been revealed by God in Scripture. We ought not allow OURSELVES (personally or even within our like-minded groups) any "wiggle room" to diverge from the perfect doctrine received from God through the enlightening of the Holy Spirit as He works in us through Scripture to reveal that perfect doctrine to us.

    The fact is, within our corporate life together as a Synod, we allow wiggle-room because we're lazy. We're (and I'm being very inclusive here and including myself) unwilling to have these tough discussions and do the hard work necessary to come to an outward unanimity that reflects the mind of God which we share according to the indwelling of His Spirit. At this point (and I would say probably throughout the Church's entire history), there are MUCH bigger issues to deal with than whether or not we agree that Jesus is/isn't the Good Samaritan, and so we need to prioritize. At the same time, such a need to prioritize ought to grieve us because we recognize that it is a capitulation to sin because in truth, there is a right and a wrong answer even to that question. In light of the fact that we all confess Christ's Headship, "if indeed [we] have heard Him and have been taught by Him," then we ought to agree even on this point and not be content with ANY disagreement.

    It was a deep concern for such purity and unanimity that led Christ to say, "Go into all nations and make disciples [by] baptizing them into the (ONE) Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit AND TEACHING THEM TO TREASURE/keep/guard (again here we have τηρεῖν just as we did when St. Paul spoke of "keeping the bond of peace" in Ephesians 4) EVERYTHING what-so-ever I HAVE given over/AUTHORITATIVELY DELIVERED/spoken TO YOU" (Mt 28:19-20 - τηρειν παντα οσα ενετειλαμην υμιν).

    If we have truly received what Christ taught, there would be no difference in our teaching in the first place. That there is a difference in teaching is due ONLY to the fact of the corrupting influence of sin which is ingrained and deeply embedded within us as fallen human beings. While we are forced to acknowledge this fact, we ought not allow ourselves to be content to say, "eh, that's just the way it is, so we might as well accept it and agree to disagree."

    Once again, I am intentionally leaving aside the question of "variety" in "practices" at this point and I make no claim as to the rightness or wrongness of any particular practice (including CoWo) - - UNLESS, of course, the practice is implicitly or explicitly teaching something other than what Scripture teaches. Then the issue is not with the PRACTICE but with the DOCTRINE embodied by the practice. This is why we must start by discussing how to deal with "variety" in doctrine before we start talking about variety in practice.

    By Blogger DentM42, at 10/27/2011 12:06 AM  

  • Anyway, I think where you and I agree is that it is impossible this side of eternity to have perfect unanimity in doctrine. Where we disagree is whether or not perfect unanimity is what is to be desired within the church of God and how far afield people ought to be allowed to go before being called back to a confession of the truth.

    What I gather from your responses is that because perfect unanimity is a practical and pragmatic impossibility, we ought to determine the boundaries that circumscribe the minimum necessary agreement to maintain external fellowship and permit (or even embrace?) differences so long as those boundaries aren't crossed.

    I believe perfect unanimity is not only to be desired but striven toward and I believe Scripture declares this to be so (as partially outlined above). I believe it is only because of our fallen human nature that differences in thinking exist and only because of our rebellious flesh do we require any sort of additional "bright lines" to be drawn. Furthermore, I believe that in every case, that same fallen human nature will seek to separate those lines from their Scriptural moorings and try to manipulate and redraw those lines to suit its own fancy. I believe the practical and pragmatic impossibility of perfect unanimity is a red-herring because at the very least it downplays the seriousness of the sinfulness of any teaching contrary to the perfect truth which God has revealed (even if because of our sinfulness we don't properly understand it) and it seeks to put within the grasp of man the ability to please God with our concord rather than pointing us to our need for a Savior and the forgiveness (and peace and concord) He offers to us.

    Does that about summarize our positions?

    By Blogger DentM42, at 10/27/2011 12:06 AM  

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